US ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy on Tuesday paid a visit to Kampong Speu province to witness its potential and to strengthen cooperation with provincial authorities, the provincial administration said.
Expectations are high that the visit will serve as a catalyst for attracting more US and foreign investors to the southwestern province, it said.
Murphy was pleased to see provincial development, highlighting the bustling factories that have generated tens of thousands of jobs for locals and comply with the Kingdom’s labour laws, it added.
Provincial governor Vei Samnang, who met with Murphy, told The Post on Wednesday that the province’s strategic geographical location, affordability and labour-law compliant factories have led to a steady growth in investment flow.
Through good communication with US embassy management, he said more US and foreign investors are bound to set up factories in the province.
He said: “The US ambassador expressed a keen interest in [developing] the provincial economic sector, and especially [promoting] the good labour conditions that act as driving forces for factory [owners] to invest in the province.”
There are currently 43 factories operating in the province that make goods for export to the US market, he said.
US embassy representative Chad Roedemeier told The Post that Murphy was “delighted” to meet Samnang and discuss US investment in the province.
He said the US is “Cambodia’s largest export market, and exports to the United States totalled $5.4 billion last year. Tens of millions of dollars’ worth of products came from Kampong Speu, from factories employing thousands of Cambodian workers.
“We see increasing numbers of US investors looking at Cambodia in sectors like energy, manufacturing, technology and healthcare.
“As Cambodia improves its investment climate – lowering logistics costs, reducing corruption, and increasing transparency – we expect even greater numbers of high-quality US companies to invest in the Kingdom,” he said.
As of the beginning of July, there are 161 large factories across the province that employ a total of 120,734 people, he said. Of these, 143 are in operation, while 18 are under construction.
There are currently 1,508 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and cottage industries employing 13,395 people, he added.
Cambodian exports to the US market rose 23.05 per cent to $2.75 billion in the first half of this year from $2.24 billion in the same period last year, data from the US Census Bureau showed.
The Kingdom imported $144.6 million worth of goods in the six months ended June 30, slipping 45.43 per cent on a yearly basis from $265 million.
According to National Bank of Cambodia, the US accounted for $10.9 billion (or 29 per cent) of Cambodian exports from January-September last year. The Kingdom accounted for just two per cent of US exports during the period, worth $16.5 million.